There's a lot to say about Cologne
in Germany - the famous fragrance
comes to mind, as does the iconic twin-towered cathedral dominating the city's skyline. The next thing I think of is the easy-living riverside drinking, and perhaps the famous locks of love affixed to Hohenzollern Bridge.
What you might not know is that for nearly a decade Cologne has been hosting a huge gathering of alternative music fans, bringing together punks, goths and dark techno addicts in an explosion of neon hair, black lace and flamboyant parasols.
|Hohenzollern bridge and the Dom in Cologne at twilight - and an array of incredible|
costumes at 2013's Amphi Festival. Images © Anita Isalska.
, held at Cologne's Tanzbrunnen Open Air arena, saw a whopping 16,000 music lovers make a pilgrimage to the city in 2013. Despite being a music festival regular, my jaw was on the floor when I saw the level of love (and lacework) that had gone into the outfits.
|More of Amphi's best-dressed, from parasols to wings to fake blood - |
and leather, whatever the weather. Images © Anita Isalska.
Full Victorian ball gowns, leather kilts, elaborately stitched corsets and buckets of fake blood - it was like wandering around a macabre pantomime. Don't get me wrong, Normal Matt and I had put in some effort, but hats and feathers and fishnet is really nothing when you are facing off with a horned fairy princess in a pink corset and wings. Amazing.
|Gross St Martin Church in Cologne, and the colourful taverns|
of Fischmarkt. Image © Anita Isalska.
Cologne is the perfect city to host a parade of darkly fantastical characters. The Dom
(cathedral) is among the more awe-inspiring in Europe, and is the largest Gothic church in northern Europe. It's hard not to gasp when you see its intricately carved facade - the largest in the world - right in front of you as you leave Cologne's main train station.
|Panorama of Amphi Festival in Cologne. Image © Anita Isalska.|
Outside the festival grounds, mojitos were being muddled into the early hours at the cocktail bars in the Alter Markt, at the kind of prices that make a (now) London girl reluctant to return home.
|Bridge over the Rhine in Cologne, Germany. Image © Anita Isalska.|
As many times as I visit Cologne, I always feel certain I'll go back. One thing is for sure, though - I'm coming back next year with a better costume.
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